My special needs son inspired an MBA graduate, and it moved me to tears.
It all happened this past Saturday.
“A force or influence that inspires someone, that makes them want to do or create something.” That’s inspiration, according to Webster’s Online Dictionary.
Katie Huff used similar words to describe my son Patrick as she spoke at Pfeiffer University’s summer graduation ceremonies this past Saturday. An accomplished young lady who was awarded her MBA that day, Katie chose to focus her comments on a shy autistic young man with a big smile.
Today’s blog photo was posted by Katie on her Facebook page that day with the comment, “Heroes come in all forms.”
Katie first met Patrick in November 2011 when he attended a Pfeiffer University Invitational Swim Meet as a high school swimmer. He asked Katie, a graduate student and assistant swim coach at Pfeiffer, to hold his glasses for him while he swam. Katie was enchanted on the spot. She watched Patrick swim the rest of the season and later convinced the head swim coach at Pfeiffer to recruit Patrick.
“I studied his moves. He smiled constantly, and he was so positive with himself and his teammates. Whenever we watched Patrick at swim meets, he had a smile on his face, ready to swim. That boy wears a smile better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Katie said during her speech.
Katie shared with the graduation crowd how Patrick was diagnosed with autism and mental retardation. How he couldn’t talk until he was 5 years old, how he battled trying to tie his shoes until he was 13 years old. She talked about a young man who persevered, garnering academic and athletic scholarships to college. She told how Patrick is now a public speaker, singer, and co-author of a new book “Optimism for Autism,” and how he swims on Pfeiffer’s Varsity Swim Team while still maintaining a 3.91 gpa.
But what made the tears fall for me was when she talked about Patrick’s heart, how he encouraged and inspired not only her but also his team and people all across campus by his kindness, encouragement, perseverance, and positive attitude.
“There were days when the stresses of school, work, and life were too much for me, but they would just disappear when Patrick walked into swim practice,” Katie said. “Patrick is an inspiration not only to the team but campus wide.
“The message that Patrick King brought into my life is the assurance that anything is possible, that we can fight through every roadblock while keeping our faith. There isn’t a doubt that God placed Patrick in my life for a reason. God has set people like Patrick on our paths as a guide so we can go beyond boundaries we have set for ourselves and achieve those things that He has planned. That’s how Patrick has impacted my life—and so many others in the Pfeiffer community,” Katie said.
She then quoted Proverbs 3:5-6, Amp., from chapter three in our book, “Optimism for Autism”: “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”
That’s how Patrick inspired Katie, what he made her “want to do or create” in her life.
I whispered to Patrick after Katie’s speech, “I know it is hard for you at times being autistic, but look at what God is doing. He is using you to inspire others, to draw them to Him. That’s a beautiful gift he is offering through you.”
Patrick’s eyes widened, and he smiled. I could tell he had never thought of himself that way.
In truth, the Lord wants all of us to participate in the inspiration process. Here’s how:
Look for Examples
In Hebrews 13:7, NASB, Paul admonished believers, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
We should allow ourselves to be inspired by godly men and women around us. We should look for them, study them, and appropriate their positive examples into our own lives.
Of course, Jesus is the ultimate example of how to relate to the Father and others. We can study Him in the gospels and choose to live as He did.
Be an Example
Paul took things a step further when he said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NASB). Paul determined to be a godly example to those who were watching him, and he observed and aimed to imitate Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We can do the same, as we read God’s Word, especially the accounts about Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us live as true Christians (which means, “little Christs”).
We are all meant to encourage and inspire one another on this journey toward our heavenly home. It is there that we will find the ultimate inspiration—Jesus.
Questions: What traits of Jesus have you seen in others? How have you been inspired to be more like Jesus? Comment at the link below.